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  • Blind Review: A Puzzle Game That Leaves You In The Dark
    Blind Review: A Puzzle Game That Leaves You In The Dark

    I’d love to tell you that Blind’s infuriating puzzles are frustrating for the right reasons, but I can’t. Tiny Bull Studios’ efforts to put you in the shoes of a blind person, giving you a taste of what life is like without sight are thoughtfully delivered and will stay with me for long after this review. Sadly, it’s the more traditional design elements that make Blind such a chore to play.

    Simply put, Blind’s brand of puzzling, which sees you trying to escape captivity in an enormous mansion, is the antithesis of Torn, a game that favored simple challenges in order to keep the pace flowing. Tiny Bull has gone to great lengths to introduce a varied set of puzzles, but solutions are often so specific that I felt like I was hitting a roadblock every few minutes.

    Take one of the game’s earliest puzzles, in which you need to find a key hidden in a library. It’s not the game’s monochrome color scheme that makes the search so draining, it’s the obscurity of the eventual solution. A grandfather clock embedded in the bookcase seems like the obvious keeper of the key, but it’s completely uninteractive.

    It wasn’t until after 30 minutes of exhaustive searching that I discovered I had to, in fact, click a footstall sitting a meter or so away to watch it automatically slide over to the clock. I couldn’t use it unless I was on the stool, even though I could reach everything just fine on the floor. Then I had to put the time in the correct place according to an audio diary. When that didn’t work, it took me yet more time to discover the phrase “nearly quarter past” in a completely separate entry. Puzzles are routinely bloated in this way.

    Later on, though, I had to retrieve an item stuck at the top of a fountain and yet I couldn’t use the stepladder sitting in the next room. There’s not much consistency to Blind’s world because you have to play by its rules, and those rules often feel like they’re known only to the developer. There are several more instances like this and, to be frank, I ran out of patience long before the game’s ending neared. A better hint system could have been a real game changer here, as the mystery at the center of Blind had me engaged with its characters throughout and many people won’t get to experience all of it.

    It’s a real shame, as Blind’s core premise of experiencing life through the eyes of someone that can’t see is well implemented. Early only you’re given a white cane that helps navigate environments and it gives the game a good deal of authenticity. Small taps will create echoes that visualize a tiny space around you though harder swipes will reveal a much wider look at the risk of overwhelming your senses. It’s a fairly straightforward representation of what I’m sure is a much more complex condition in reality, but its simplicity also helps staves

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  • Salary Man Escape Means Business on Steam VR Physics-based puzzle title Salary Man Escape is now available on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
  • Go toe-to-toe With Mates as PvP Mode Confirmed for Creed: Rise to Glory The boxing experience is set to launch next week.
  • Sony Patents VR Headset That Combats Simulation Sickness With Eye-Tracking And More
    Sony Patents VR Headset That Combats Simulation Sickness With Eye-Tracking And More

    A new patent from Sony suggests the company’s next PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset will take the fight to simulation sickness.

    The patent was originally filed in early 2017 (six months after the original PSVR’s release) and published last week. It describes a system for fighting what it describes as “virtual reality sickness” using a head-mounted display (HMD) that’s fitted with a range of biometric sensors such as a thermometer, eye-tracking cameras, a moisture sensor and exterior orientation sensors.

    According to the patent, the given headset would use these features to establish a “health threshold value” that could presumably tell when a VR experience was becoming too intense for the user and then act accordingly. There’s even a microphone that will listen out for “negative” words and noises that might suggest you’re having a bad time (or you’re just doing the Mr. Baker chase in Resident Evil 7).

    It’s an interesting approach to solving the simulation sickness issues; many hardware and software developers are trying to reduce sickness through intelligent design but this patent suggests Sony may come up with a system that accepts people get ill in VR and tries to help them when they start feeling nauseous.

    That said, based on the chart below, it looks like the system would be more concerned with alerting the VR user to their condition rather than dynamically changing the given experience for it. The number of sensors listed also frankly lean a little on the overkill side of things.

    Of course, some elements of the headset could also be used in other ways. Eye-tracking, for example, is considered essential for the next step of VR. It allows for foveated rendering, which only fully renders the parts of a display you’re directly looking at, dramatically reducing the processing power required to run experiences. That could be great news for the PS5.

    Interestingly enough the headset is also fitted with a battery, suggesting it may be a self-contained system. Could that mean that a hypothetical PSVR 2 would operate wirelessly, connecting to a PlayStation console over WiFi? It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard mention of wireless support.

    We recently reported that Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida is confident we’ll see improvements to VR comfort and immersion going forward, and elements of this patent could play a big part in that. Earlier this year we also saw a patent that suggested the company was working on new motion controllers for VR too. The only question now is if and when we’ll see all of these promising elements come to fruition?

    Tagged with: PSVR, sony

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  • The Darkness Awaits As Blind Emerges Onto VR Awaken in a spooky mansion with only echoes to guide you in newly released VR thriller Blind.
  • Knockout League Adds Heavy Bag Training In New DLC
    Knockout League Adds Heavy Bag Training In New DLC

    Creed: Rise to Glory may be entering the ring next week but Grab Games’ Knockout League is still in the fight.

    This week the developer announced a brand new add-on DLC for the VR boxing game named Heavy Bag. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin; the download adds a new training mode that will get you in front of a heavy bag to train for fights. Trusty trainer Doug will be on hand to offer tips as you look to bulk up your accuracy, speed, power and endurance by hitting specific parts of the bag in various challenges.

    It looks like a more serious side of Knockout League’s otherwise silly boxing package, which has you fighting an octopus and a pirate amongst others. Crucially, though, it looks like it could be a great workout.

    Elsewhere, a new southpaw option will be added to the modification panel, though you won’t need to purchase the DLC for that.

    Looking for the Heavy Bag DLC to arrive “very soon” for the game’s Rift, Vive, Windows VR and PSVR versions at the low price of $2.99. Not bad.

    Tagged with: Knockout League

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  • Make Real Creates its own Racing Line Towards Content Creation The studio has just released Vodafone - Working at Height for Oculus mobile headsets.
  • What Makes Good VR? Make Real Gives Some Insider Know How Ever been to a UK VR event? Then you'll have likely seen Make Real's Sam Watts there.
  • Developer Profile: Make Real A British company focused on immersive content, either for consumer or enterprise purposes.
  • Make Real: The Beginning of VR VRFocus sat down with Make Real to discuss the company and its future.
  • Make Real: Going Back to The Drawing Board The Drawing Board is a new R&D concept the studio has recently unveiled.
  • VR MOBA Dark Eclipse Unveils Release Date Japanese developer SUNSOFT hopes to make a comeback with VR RTS/MOBA hybried title Dark Eclipse.
  • Sunsoft’s VR MOBA Dark Eclipse Hits PSVR Next Week
    Sunsoft’s VR MOBA Dark Eclipse Hits PSVR Next Week

    Virtual reality will get a DOTA 2 rival next week.

    Dark Eclipse, a new multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game from Sunsoft, is coming to Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset on September 25th. In the app, you control one of three Leaders on a giant battlefield and must race to destroy the enemy base whilst defending your own. It’s sort of like Firewall just… also not like Firewall at all. Check it out in last year’s Tokyo Game Show trailer below.

    As you can see from the footage, the game’s best played with a pair of PlayStation Move motion controllers, though it’ll also support the DualShock 4. The game is design to be fast paced with one-on-one battles that will have players thinking on their feet. In the coming months Sunsoft plans to add regular free updates with more playable characters and balance tweaks too.

    We’ll be interested to see if a MOBA like this catches on with the VR audience. Valve did introduce a VR spectator mode to DOTA 2 a few years back, but we’ve never seen a full on entry in the genre released for headsets. For developer Sunsoft, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, it also marks a return to the US and European markets.

    Dark Eclipse will launch as a free-to-play game.

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  • VR Education Holdings Releases Results for First Half of 2018 Immersive education company VR Education Holdings expects positive results from 2018.
  • Transference Review: A Black Mirror VR Nightmare Come To Life
    Transference Review: A Black Mirror VR Nightmare Come To Life

    Have you seen the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror? If not, then you should skip this opening paragraph. In that episode, people are able to make the decision on their death bed to either pass away naturally, like we do today, or to have their consciousness uploaded to a “simulated reality” server featuring a beach-side city aptly titled San Junipero. Transference is, in short, like that if it were a twisted nightmare concocted by an obsessively deranged scientist.

    As a result, Transference is a difficult game to articulate. In many ways this is the perfect embodiment of what people mean when they say “VR experience” rather than “game” or “story” as the narrative itself ebbs and flows as something that exists around you rather than something that’s told to you as you play. And after spending about 90 minutes to get through it all from start to finish in one sitting, I can’t stop thinking about it.

    In Transference, Raymond Hayes has developed a technology that allows for 1:1 consciousness simulation. Or in other words, he’s created the ability to perfectly replicate a person’s brain, memories, and entire being digitally so that it can not only be preserved indefinitely, but also so that they can continue to live on forever.

    The problem with that is he has used himself and his own family as the test subjects. Raymond’s obsession has driven him mad and turned him into a neglectful, abusive, and deranged man that’s ripping apart his marriage and ruining his son. It’s a tumultuous setting and as you dig deeper into the relationships, mostly by way of exploring the environments, watching video clips, listening to audio recordings, and picking up on environmental storytelling bits, the dark layers of the Hayes family slowly peel back.

    If you’re looking for a structured, neatly packaged narrative like you’d find in a movie — this is not that type of thing. Transference doesn’t tell you a story, it puts you at the center of a family’s life. Throughout the experience you’re jumping between Ray, his wife Katherine, and their son Benjamin.

    A major theme in Transference is perspective, meaning that everyone has their own interpretation of not only reality, but of memories and experiences as well. So, everyone has their own perspective. Since you’re constantly switching between three different family members and spend most of your time re-exploring the same home, you get to see the same areas from three different perspectives, although the visuals and assets themselves are heavily reused.

    My favorite way that this manifested itself was in the subtle environmental changes. Pick up a memento that holds sentimental value for Ray and he’ll comment on it, but Katherine may have a negative memory attached to it instead. In particular there’s a family photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge that, depending on who is looking at it, changes. Combined with background voice overs from the corresponding character, it’s an effective (albeit extremely subtle) technique.

    One of the key mechanics in Transference is one of switching

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